Friday, 25 May 2012

Collaborative Beacons Fanzine

For the weekend of 17 - 19th August I will be at the Beacons music festival near Skipton, doing minicomics and participatory paper activities for a collaborative festival fanzine.

I am very happy that this is happening, because I've meant to contribute to this particular festival for ages - it's a cycle ride from my folks' house, it's good and interesting music, it's Yorkshire! And it was flooded and therefore cancelled in 2011, which was a big shame.

This blog post details my planned activities for the Fanzine, all of which I think will be great fun! (and also, if I forget what I said I was going to do, I can look back at this post and remind myself!) 

Zine it Yourself: participatory fanzine making.

Suitable for all ages, all abilities, and all imaginations, 'zines are a cheap, accessible and infinitely variable form of self-expression with a proud and profound place in our musical and cultural history. Poetry, doodles, puzzles and deeply personal experiences can all be shared, on paper, with the unknown stranger. Sometimes these let you into the heart of another person, in a way that corporate, agenda-driven, mass-mediated publications simply cannot do. And sometimes they give you the first, best review of your new favourite band - who are refreshingly unpretentious and loose-lipped to the fanzine interviewer!

In this workshop, festival-goers will be bullied and cajoled and joyfully misled into contributing to a Beacons Festival Fanzine. There will be ongoing collaborative stories written up on old- fashioned typewriters; there will be stencil art and potato prints; there will be a myriad of accessible ways to enable you to express yourself on paper.

Don't keep yourself locked-inside; don't leave the speaking and the writing to the brassy and the over-paid. Share what you thought of that band; tell us a story; remember a dream dreamed under canvas; draw a really lame picture of a funny sheep : collectively all these papery records will create a unique festival document and remind us how it feels to do it ourselves - DIY culture lives!

Hosted by Zine-it-Yourself, the Newcastle-based zine obsessive otherwise known as Mike

Workshop One (Friday afternoon?): Make your own Mini Comic
Mini comics are a superbly accessible and simple way of getting people drawing and sharing experiences. 100% suitable for children, but with no limit to the artistic expertise or intellectual depth of the contributor! One A4 piece of paper is cunningly folded to create an 8-page unique comic.

Workshop Two (Saturday afternoon?) Exquisite Corpses (the surrealist drawing game). "You know the rules: draw a head, fold the paper, pass to your left and we carry on".

Due to 2012's fashionable budgetry constraints, I may be running all these activities on my own, in which case this game's success will entirely depend upon enough enthusiastic and unexpected participants happening to be in the same place at the same time! The other collaborative zine-making elements below will all happen to a greater or lesser extent!

Roaming Elements:

1. Travel back in time to the land before computers: discover why the shift key has come down to us where it has!

Using a typewriter these days is a rare and privileged experience, but here you can try it for free! See the metal lever fly and get your fingers all inky as you have to untangle the ribbon. See a genuine metal machine at work, powered only by the kinetic energy of your fingers. And if aliens wipe out the internet with a giant magnetic pulse, you'll still be able to write your dirty novel on one of these!

Add an experience, a thought, a thing you wish to share (or just bang the keys in a random order: that's fine too). Collectively, these will create a strange kind of collaborative document of this time, spent in these fields together. I shall post a copy to Abu Dhabi.

2. Interview yourself: answer these questions honestly and truthfully and then say that someone else said them. (feeling creative? make up your own questions here. feeling sociable? interview a stranger. feeling random? follow these instructions and record the answers.)

3. "Cut up your own words, or the words of our national heroes, and discover the secret dadaist messages within. Once finished, use these pictures to choose the person you think should have spoken them." A find-and-seek game, where the paper-y materials of the local environment (posters, instructions, adverts, litter) are scavenged to collect intriguing words, phrases and juxtapositions.

4. The Stencil Page
Layering of words can create an intriguing and surprising effect. One of the beauties of zines is the way they turn letters into art, via simple equipment like photocopiers - smudges, double exposures, cut-ups and unexpected juxtaposition (think of the sex pistols' collages).
This page will achieve the same thing, but with a stencil!
Write what words you like - your name, your lover's secret, a new word, a one-letter poem? The next person will lay their word over the top, it'll be reduced and photocopied, black and white and A4 size, & who knows what depth, what single surviving letters, what mess might occur! (colour scans will also be shown on the website).

5. Comics panels and pictures to complete. I will provide incomplete pictures of festival sights, blank comics panels, unfinished puzzles and stuff with speech and thought bubbles to fill - let your warped genius complete the world!

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